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From the Magnificent Mya Tibbs series , Vol. 3

Allen lassoes another terrific tale for the Magnificent Mya Tibbs series.

This latest addition to Allen’s series about a determined fourth-grader highlights Mya’s struggles to keep her family and friends connected any way she can.

While her big brother, Nugget, is congratulated for his intelligence and her baby sister, Macey, is showered with attention and constant care, Mya is left out of the circle of love she’s used to sharing with her African-American family. Most of her earnest attempts to attract her parents’ attention are either ignored or met with confusion, but when she’s given a school assignment to build a business, Mya’s sure that a good-news-only newspaper will be the perfect vehicle to park her parents’ focus back on her. In between trying to get her family back on track, repairing broken friendships, and ensuring joyous birthday celebrations for her twin friends and for their small Texas town, Mya learns solid lessons about the lasting power of hurtful language, the importance of speaking up for yourself, and the pressures of owning a small business. Mya faces realistic consequences for some of her more questionable hijinks, but the inclusion of accessible templates for building budgets and business plans and the fact that adults listen to Mya when she expresses emotional distress make this more than just a story about adaptability; it’s an introduction to other, broader conversations with kids about money, health, and responsibility.

Allen lassoes another terrific tale for the Magnificent Mya Tibbs series. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-283939-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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